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Project on Government Oversight

Air Force Wants Contractors to Write Its Strategy

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March 28, 2008

From POGO's blog:

The Air Force wants to outsource the synthesization, analysis and writing of its own overarching strategic direction.  Inside the Air Force reports: "The Air Force is seeking a private contractor to help prepare its portion of the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review."

According to Title 10, Section 118 of the United States Code, the QDR is: “a comprehensive examination of the national defense strategy, force structure, force modernization plans, infrastructure, budget plan, and other elements of the defense program and policies of the United States with a view toward determining and expressing the defense strategy of the United States and establishing a defense program for the next 20 years."  This is clearly the kind of function that should be kept in the hands of government employees.  Outsourcing this function will distance the Air Force from the people who are developing its own strategic direction.  Frankly, the Air Force should not need to hire a contractor to do this, nor should it want to.  Plus when you consider the weak conflict of interest regulations that contractors are subjected to relative to those faced by government employees, and the obvious temptations the opportunity provides (e.g. setting acquisition priorities, among other things), it all boils down to being a bad idea.

According to the March 20, 2008, solicitation notice on FedBizOpps, the contractor is supposed to provide the following:

1.1 Mission.     To provide the focal point for the Air Force Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review (QRMR) through an integrated process that reaches across the Department of Defense (DoD), supporting the Chief of Staff's global strategic vision while preparing our nation to fight and win in air, space, and cyberspace.

1.2     Scope.     Non-personal advisory and assistance services (A&AS) contract to support mission and requirements as well as all supported staff organizations and agencies.     Primarily responsible for integrating positions from all Air Staff, MAJCOM, Doctrine Development Center (AFDDEC), and DoD inputs with all relevant existing research.     Conducts requisite novel research and analysis for developing recommended advocacy positions on relevant issues that have effects on the Air Force and DoD as a whole.     A&AS contract support should include, but is not limited to, analysis and position development on DoD roles and missions, air mobility, global strike, command and control (C2), intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), cyberspace, ballistic missile defense (BMD), irregular warfare (IW), joint recapitalization, strategic communications, QDR strategy and other timely and acute strategic issues.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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